Unnum

I have read many writings both of heathen philosophers and inspired prophets, ancient and modern, and have sought earnestly to discover what is the best and highest quality whereby man may approach most nearly to union with God, and whereby he may most resemble the ideal of himself which existed in God, before God created men.

And after having thoroughly searched these writings as far as my reason may penetrate, I find no higher quality than sanctification or separation from all creatures. Therefore said our Lord to Martha, “One thing is necessary,” as if to say, “whoso wishes to be untroubled and content, must have one thing, that is sanctification.”

Meister Eckhart – Sanctification


Luke 10,38-42
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.

Metaphysics and Religion

If man has ever emerged from the whole of nature (that belongs to his essence, is an act of becoming man) and made it his “subject”, he must somehow turn himself backwards with trembling and ask, “So where do I stand myself? What is my place then?” Indeed, he no longer can say: “I am a part of the world, I am surrounded by it”, because the active being of spirit and human person surpasses the forms of existence of this “world” in time and space.

So, in turning, he looks somehow into nothingness; in this view he discovers the possibility of “absolute nothingness” and that prompts him to question further: “Why is there any world at all? why and how do «I» exist?” Having discovered the randomness of the world, man could behave in two ways:

  1. He could become amazed at it and activate his cognizant spirit to capture the absolute, and become part of it – this is a beginning of every metaphysics; in history has not it appeared until very late and only among very few people.
  2. But he could also, caused by unsurmountable desire to save – not only his individual being, but above all, his entire group – based upon and with huge surplus of fantasy, which, unlike animals, exists in man from the very beginning, populate that sphere of existence with any characters, and through worship and ritual shelter himself under the cover of their power, to get from “behind” some little care and assistance; because in the basic act of alienation from nature and objectification of her – while developing his own being and self-awareness – he seemed to be sinking into pure nothingness. Overcoming of nihilism in the form of such rescue, such support, we call religion. In our philosophical reflections on the relationship of man to the highest principles we must reject all similar ideas.

For us, the basic relationship between man and the Ground of Being consists in the fact that in man – who as such, both as a spiritual and alive being, is only a partial center of the spirit and momentum of “what is real by itself” – I say: in man this Ground is directly comprehended and realized.

The old thought of Spinoza and Hegel and many others is: primary existence becomes self-aware in man himself in the same act in which man sees himself rooted in it. The place of this self-realization, we say: of this self-deification, which is sought by ‘being by himself’ and because of which becoming he accepted the world as “history” – is the man, the human self and the human heart. They are the only place of becoming God that is available to us.

You could tell me, and I was actually told, that man cannot stand unready, becoming God. My response to that is that metaphysics is not an insurance company for the weak people, requiring support. The absolute being does not exist to support man, to complement his ordinary weaknesses and needs.

Max Scheler – The Human Place in the Cosmos

Distortion Level

Throughout theological history we have been assured by religious leaders that if we perform certain rituals, repeat certain prayers or mantras, conform to certain patterns, suppress our desires, control our thoughts, sublimate our passions, limit our appetites and refrain from sexual indulgence, we shall, after sufficient torture of the mind and body, find something beyond life itself.

But a tortured mind, a broken mind, a mind which wants to escape from all turmoil, which has denied the outer world and been made dull through discipline and conformity – such a mind, however long it seeks, will find only according to its own distortion.

The question of whether or not there is a God or truth or reality, or whatever you like to call it, can never be answered by books, by priests, philosophers or saviours. Nobody and nothing can answer the question but you yourself and that is why you must know yourself. Immaturity lies only in total ignorance of self. To understand yourself is the beginning of wisdom.

Jiddu Krishnamurti – Freedom from the Known

Otro loco mas

Turning off the electric light he continued the conversation with himself. It is the light of course but it is necessary that the place be clean and pleasant. You do not want music. Certainly you do not want music. Nor can you stand before a bar with dignity although that is all that is provided for these hours.

What did he fear? It was not fear or dread. It was a nothing that he knew too well. It was all a nothing and a man was nothing too. It was only that and light was all it needed and a certain cleanness and order. Some lived in it and never felt it but he knew it all was nada y pues nada y nada y pues nada. Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee.

Now, without thinking further, he would go home to his room. He would lie in the bed and finally, with daylight, he would go to sleep. After all, he said to himself, it is probably only insomnia. Many must have it.

Ernest Hemingway – A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

As Others Do

The ultimate triumph of philosophy would be to cast light upon the mysterious ways in which Providence moves to achieve the designs it has for man, and then to deduce therefrom some plan of conduct which would enable that two-legged wretch, forever buffeted by the whims of the Supreme Being who is said to direct his steps no less despotically, to know how to interpret what Providence decrees for him and to select a path to follow which would forestall the bizarre caprices of the Fate to which a score of different names are given but whose nature is still uncertain.

For if, taking social conventions as our starting-point and remaining faithful to the respect for them which education has bred in us, it should by mischance occur that through the perversity of others we encounter only thorns while evil persons gather nothing but roses, then will not a man, possessed of a stock of virtue insufficient to allow him to rise above the thoughts inspired by these unhappy circumstances, calculate that he would do as well to swim with the torrent as against it? And will he not say that when virtue, however fine a thing it be, unhappily proves too weak to resist evil, then virtue becomes the worst path he can follow, and will he not conclude that in an age that is utterly corrupt, the best policy is to do as others do?

Donatien Alphonse François de Sade – The Misfortunes of Virtue

Escape from Freedom

The spiritual relatedness to the world can assume many forms; the monk in his cell who believes in God and the political prisoner kept in isolation who feels one with his fellow-fighters are not alone morally. The kind of relatedness to the world may be noble or trivial, but even being related to the basest kind of pattern is immensely preferable to being alone.

Religion and nationalism, as well as any custom and any belief however absurd and degrading, if it only connects the individual with others, are refuges from what man most dreads: isolation.

Erich Fromm – The Fear of Freedom

Christian Taboo

The endeavour of the son to put himself in place of the father god, appeared with greater and greater distinctness. With the introduction of agriculture the importance of the son in the patriarchal family increased. He was emboldened to give new expression to his incestuous libido which found symbolic satisfaction in labouring over mother earth. There came into existence figures of gods like Attis, Adonis, Tammuz, and others, spirits of vegetation as well as youthful divinities who enjoyed the favours of maternal deities and committed incest with the mother in defiance of the father.

But the sense of guilt which was not allayed through these creations, was expressed in myths which visited these youthful lovers of the maternal goddesses with short life and punishment through castration or through the wrath of the father god appearing in animal form. Adonis was killed by the boar, the sacred animal of Aphrodite; Attis, the lover of Kybele, died of castration. The lamentation for these gods and the joy at their resurrection have gone over into the ritual of another son which divinity was destined to survive long.

When Christianity began its entry into the ancient world it met with the competition of the religion of Mithras and for a long time it was doubtful which deity was to be the victor. The bright figure of the youthful Persian god has eluded our understanding. He represented the son who carried out the sacrifice of the father by himself and thus released the brothers from their oppressing complicity in the deed. There was another way of allaying this sense of guilt and this is the one that Christ took. He sacrificed his own life and thereby redeemed the brothers from primal sin.

The theory of primal sin is of Orphic origin; it was preserved in the mysteries and thence penetrated into the philosophic schools of Greek antiquity. Men were the descendants of Titans, who had killed and dismembered the young Dionysos-Zagreus; the weight of this crime oppressed them. In the Christian myth man’s original sin is undoubtedly an offence against God the Father, and if Christ redeems mankind from the weight of original sin by sacrificing his own life, he forces us to the conclusion that this sin was murder. And if this sacrifice of one’s own life brings about a reconciliation with god, the father, then the crime which must be expiated can only have been the murder of the father.

Thus in the Christian doctrine mankind most unreservedly acknowledges the guilty deed of primordial times because it now has found the most complete expiation for this deed in the sacrificial death of the son. In the same deed which offers the greatest possible expiation to the father, the son also attains the goal of his wishes against the father. He becomes a god himself beside or rather in place of his father. The religion of the son succeeds the religion of the father. As a sign of this substitution the old totem feast is revived again in the form of communion in which the band of brothers now eats the flesh and blood of the son and no longer that of the father, the sons thereby identifying themselves with him and becoming holy themselves.

Sigmund Freud – Totem and Taboo

The Last Supper

Mechanism

A man ever considered with purely earthly respects, appears to be reaching peaks of moral and physical perfection. His skills coalesce delightfully to lead him to that goal. His senses more perfect than in lower species, his memory so amazing, that presents him with various objects, not allowing to be mixed up, his ability to judge, allowing to classify them and compare, his mind, every day discovering new relations between the two, everything works, leading him toward new discoveries, and strengthening his dominance.

Meanwhile, among his conquests and victories, neither the enthralled world, nor established social organizations, nor announced laws, nor fulfilled needs, nor multiplied pleasures are enough for his soul. A desire continues to grow in him that demands something else. He examined, penetrated, tamed and adorned his earthly refuge, but his eyes look for another realm. He became the master of visible and finite nature, but desires the nature invisible and without borders. He took care of things which, the more complex and artificial they are, of the higher caliber they seem. He learned and counted everything, but feels discouraged that he only deals with interests and calculations.

Some inner voice shouts inside of him and tells him that all these things are just a mechanism, more or less brilliant, more or less perfect, but inadequate to be a finale or a limitation of his existence, and that what he took as the goal, was only a number of means.

Benjamin Constant – On religion

Perfect Knowledge

Buddha had once said: “The things, Oh Sariputra, they do not exist as they seem to the ordinary unenlightened people, who are attached to them.” Sariputra said, “So how do things exist, my Master?” Buddha replied: “They exist only in such a way that they actually do not exist. As they do not exist, they should be called Avidyā, which means non-existent. It is them that the ordinary unenlightened people are attached to, who imagine that objects in fact exist, while none of them are existent.”

Then Buddha asked the Venerable Subhuti: “Do you think Subhuti that illusion is one thing and body another? Is illusion one thing and feeling another? Idea another? Shape another? Knowledge another?” Subhuti replied: “No, my Master.” Then Buddha said: “The nature of illusion makes things what they are. This is done in such a way, Oh Subhuti, as if a skillful wizzard or wizard’s apprentice pointed at crowds of people at the crossroads and, upon showing them, made them disappear again.”

Prajñāpāramitā (Perfect knowledge)

The Age of Volatile Belief

The age of volatile belief is intimately linked with the impact of the technetronic revolution on existing ideologies and outlooks on life. What man thinks is closely related to what man experiences. The relationship between the two is not causal but interacting: experience affects thought, and thought conditions the interpretation of experience.

Today the dominant pattern seems increasingly to be that of highly individualistic, unstructured, changing perspectives. Institutionalized beliefs, the result of the merger of ideas and institutions, no longer appear to many as vital and relevant, while the skepticism that has contributed so heavily to the undermining of institutionalized beliefs now clashes with the new emphasis on passion and involvement. The result for many is an era of fads, of rapidly shifting beliefs, with emotions providing for some the unifying cement previously supplied by institutions and with the faded revolutionary slogans of the past providing the needed inspiration for facing an altogether different future.

Zbigniew Brzezinski – Between Two Ages. America’s Role in the Technetronic Era

The Best of All Possible Worlds

The claim that beliefs in themselves do not have a grain of truth, and at the same time that an important or even guiding social role of religion is to meet the needs of cognition, is logically impeccable. We never lack arguments to justify the doctrine in which, for whatever reason, we want to believe.

Of course, faith would not be needed, if the course of world affairs applied directly and reliably to the norms of justice, as this would mean that we live in Paradise. Adam and Eve did not believe in the existence of God in the sense in which their descendants believed, as they lived in a real theocracy under direct and visible rule of God.

There is no such thing as rational worship. If we talk about God’s qualities and works as objects that can be conceptually separated, it is only because in this way our finite minds try to capture Infinity, which we can not understand.

Neither party was convinced, nor will probably ever find the arguments of the opposing party convincing, which is also a common fate of all the fundamental questions in philosophy for the past twenty-five centuries.

Leszek Kolakowski – Religion: If there is no God

What is Zen?

It is presented right to your face, and at this moment the whole thing is handed over to you. For an intelligent fellow, one word should suffice to convince him of the truth of it, but even then error has crept in. Much more so when it is committed to paper and ink, or given up to wordy demonstration or to logical quibble, then it slips farther away from you. The great truth of Zen is possessed by everybody. Look into your own being and seek it not through others. Your own mind is above all forms; it is free and quiet and sufficient. In its light all is absorbed. Hush the dualism of subject and object, forget both, transcend the intellect, sever yourself from the understanding.

Miyun Yuanwu

The basic idea of Zen is to come in touch with the inner workings of our being, and to do this in the most direct way possible, without resorting to anything external. Therefore, anything that has the semblance of an external authority is rejected by Zen. Absolute faith is placed in a man’s own inner being. For whatever authority there is in Zen, all comes from within. This is true in the strictest sense of the word.

Zen professes itself to be the spirit of Buddhism, but in fact it is the spirit of all religions and philosophies. When Zen is thoroughly understood, absolute peace of mind is attained, and a man lives as he ought to live. What more may we hope?

For Zen reveals itself in the most uninteresting and uneventful life of a plain man of the street, recognizing the fact of living in the midst of life as it is lived. Zen systematically trains the mind to see this; it opens a man’s eye to the greatest mystery as it is daily and hourly performed; it enlarges the heart to embrace eternity of time and infinity of space in its every palpitation; it makes us live in the world as if walking in the garden of Eden; and all these spiritual feats are accomplished without resorting to any doctrines but by simply asserting in the most direct way the truth that lies in our inner being.

Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki – An Introduction to Zen Buddhism

Collective Solipsism

Winston shrank back upon the bed. Whatever he said, the swift answer crushed him like a bludgeon. And yet he knew, he knew, that he was in the right. The belief that nothing exists outside your own mind — surely there must be some way of demonstrating that it was false? Had it not been exposed long ago as a fallacy? There was even a name for it, which he had forgotten. A faint smile twitched the corners of O’Brien’s mouth as he looked down at him.

I told you, Winston, that metaphysics is not your strong point. The word you are trying to think of is solipsism. But you are mistaken. This is not solipsism. Collective solipsism, if you like. But that is a different thing: in fact, the opposite thing. All this is a digression. The real power, the power we have to fight for night and day, is not power over things, but over men.

George Orwell – 1984

The Willful Child

Once upon a time there was a child who was willful and did not do what his mother wanted. For this reason God was displeased with him and caused him to become ill, and no doctor could help him, and in a short time he lay on his deathbed. He was lowered into a grave and covered with earth, but his little arm suddenly came forth and reached up, and it didn’t help when they put it back in and put fresh earth over it, for the little arm always came out again. So the mother herself had to go to the grave and beat the little arm with a switch, and as soon as she had done that, it withdrew, and the child finally came to rest beneath the earth.

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm – Household Tales

The Tower

In Luke 14:26, as everybody knows, there is a striking doctrine taught about the absolute duty toward God:

If any man cometh unto me and hateth not his own father and mother and wife and children and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

This is a hard saying, who can bear to hear it? For this reason it is heard very seldom. This silence, however, is only an evasion which is of no avail. In the verse immediately following there is a story about a man who desired to build a tower but first sat down to calculate whether he was capable of doing it, lest people might laugh at him afterwards. The close connection of this story with the verse here cited seems precisely to indicate that the words are to be taken in as terrible a sense as possible, to the end that everyone may examine himself as to whether he is able to erect the tower.

The words are terrible, yet I fully believe that one can understand them without implying that he who understands them has courage to do them. But we must be honest, and not interpret this lack of courage as humility, since it is really pride. One can easily perceive that if there is to be any sense in this passage, it must be understood literally. God it is who requires absolute love.

But how hate them? If I regard the problem as a paradox, then I understand it, that is, I understand it in such a way as one can understand a paradox. This is shown by Abraham. The instant he is ready to sacrifice Isaac the ethical expression for what he does is this: he hates Isaac. But if he really hates Isaac, he can be sure that God does not require this, for Cain and Abraham are not identical. Isaac he must love with his whole soul; when God requires Isaac he must love him if possible even more dearly, and only on this condition can he sacrifice him; for in fact it is this love for Isaac which, by its paradoxical opposition to his love for God, makes his act a sacrifice.

People commonly refrain from quoting such a text as this in Luke. They are afraid of giving men a free rein, are afraid that the worst will happen as soon as the individual takes it into his head to comport himself as the individual. Moreover, they think that to exist as the individual is the easiest thing of all, and that therefore people have to be compelled to become the universal. I cannot share either this fear or this opinion, and both for the same reason. He who has learned that to exist as the individual is the most terrible thing of all will not be fearful of saying that it is great. He knows that it is terrible to be born outside the universal, to walk without meeting a single traveller. Humanly speaking, he is crazy and cannot make himself intelligible to anyone.

Sören Kierkegaard – Fear and Trembling. Is there such a thing as an absolute duty toward God?

No boundaries

We create a persistent alienation from ourselves, from others, and from the world by fracturing out present experience into different parts, separated by boundaries. We artificially split our awareness into compartments such as subject vs. object, life vs. death, mind vs. body, inside vs. outside, reason vs. instinct. The result of such violence, although known by many other names, is simply unhappiness. Life becomes suffering, full of battles. But all our battles in our experience – our conflicts, anxieties, sufferings, and despairs – are created by the boundaries we misguidingly throw around our experience.

Ken Wilber – No boundary

The Anarchist

There is a perfect likeness between Christian and anarchist: their object, their instinct, points only toward destruction. Those holy anarchists made it a matter of “piety” to destroy “the world,”which is to say, the Imperium Romanum, so that in the end not a stone stood upon another — and even Germans and other such louts were able to become its masters. The Christian and the anarchist: both are decadents; both are incapable of any act that is not disintegrating, poisonous, degenerating, blood-sucking; both have an instinct of mortal hatred of everything that stands up, and is great, and has durability, and promises life a future.

These stealthy worms, which under the cover of night, mist and duplicity, crept upon every individual, sucking him dry of all earnest interest in real things, of all instinct for reality — this cowardly, effeminate and sugar-coated gang gradually alienated all “souls,” step by step, from that colossal edifice, turning against it all the meritorious, manly and noble natures that had found in the cause of Rome their own cause, their own serious purpose, their own pride. The sneakishness of hypocrisy, the secrecy of the conventicle, concepts as black as hell, such as the sacrifice of the innocent, the unio mystica in the drinking of blood, above all, the slowly rekindled fire of revenge, of Chandala revenge — all that sort of thing became master of Rome: the same kind of religion which, in a pre-existent form, Epicurus had combated.

One has but to read Lucretius to know what Epicurus made war upon — not paganism, but “Christianity,” which is to say, the corruption of souls by means of the concepts of guilt, punishment and immortality. He combated the subterranean cults, the whole of latent Christianity — to deny immortality was already a form of genuine salvation. Epicurus had triumphed, and every respectable intellect in Rome was Epicurean — when Paul appeared…

Paul, the Chandala hatred of Rome, of “the world,” in the flesh and inspired by genius — the eternal Jew par excellence. What he saw was how, with the aid of the small sectarian Christian movement that stood apart from Judaism, a “world conflagration” might be kindled; how, with the symbol of “God on the cross,” all secret seditions, all the fruits of anarchistic intrigues in the empire, might be amalgamated into one immense power.

The genius of Paul showed itself. His instinct was here so sure that, with reckless violence to the truth, he put the ideas which lent fascination to every sort of Chandala religion into the mouth of the “Saviour” as his own inventions, and not only into the mouth — he made out of him something that even a priest of Mithras could understand. This was his revelation at Damascus: he grasped the fact that he needed the belief in immortality in order to rob “the world” of its value, that the concept of “hell” would master Rome — that the notion of a “beyond” is the death of life.

Friedrich Nietzsche – The Antichrist

Brothers

Sages who searched with their heart’s thought discovered the existent’s kinship in the non-existent. Who verily knows and who can here declare it, whence it was born and whence comes this creation? The Gods are later than this world’s production. Who knows then whence it first came into being? He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it, whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows not.

Rig Veda, Hymn CXXIX